J&J withdraws from RSV vaccine races with rivals Pfizer and GSK

A Johnson & Johnson building can be seen in Irvine, California.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Johnson&Johnson on Wednesday said it is withdrawing from the RSV vaccine race weeks after its competitors Pfizer And GSK approached the launch of the world’s first vaccination against the deadly virus.

J&J will halt work on its adult RSV vaccine program and halt a pivotal Phase 3 trial testing the shot, the company announced a press release. The New Brunswick, NJ-based healthcare giant justified its decision with a portfolio review “to prioritize the most transformative assets for ongoing investments.”

“By regularly realigning our portfolio, Janssen ensures we invest heavily in products that can transform patients’ lives,” said Dr. J&J Executive Vice President Bill Hait in the press release. “We remain focused on advancing our differentiated pipeline, improving the lives of millions of patients and developing new modalities in areas of greatest unmet medical need.” Janssen is the pharmaceutical division of J&J.

J&J shares were relatively flat following the announcement.

dr Vamil Divan, senior biopharmaceutical analyst at Guggenheim, wrote in a note Wednesday that the announcement was a “disappointment but not a total surprise.” The firm maintains a neutral rating on J&J, he added.

“Today’s news doesn’t change our overall view of JNJ stock, but we believe it adds some pressure on the company to provide positive news from other major pharma assets later this year,” Divan wrote.

Respiratory syncytial virus is a common virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but older adults and infants can get more serious infections that can lead to hospitalization or death.

the virus kills 6,000 to 10,000 seniors and a few hundred children under the age of five. RSV cases unexpectedly surged in the US last winter, overwhelming children’s hospitals across the country. Since then, the race to develop the world’s first RSV vaccine has garnered more attention than ever.

J&J first started its phase 3 study in September 2021, which will enroll around 23,000 adults aged 60 and over. A phase two study of the company’s RSV shot found out provided 80% protection against severe RSV infection.

But the company still lagged behind rivals Pfizer and GSK, both of which have made big strides towards US approval of their recordings in the last month.

FDA advisors recommended syringes from both drugmakers despite the risks of a rare neurological disorder. An FDA review of Pfizer’s vaccine found it was about 86% protective against lower respiratory disease with three or more symptoms, while a similar review of GSK’s vaccine found it was 83% effective.

drug manufacturer modern also has its own potential RSV shot that has performed well in clinical trials.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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